MUMBAI (REUTERS) – India’s Adani Group on Friday (Aug 26) rejected claims made by New Delhi Television (NDTV) that regulatory curbs restricted the news network’s founders from selling their stake in the company.

Adani Group, led by Asia’s richest man Gautam Adani, is trying to take over NDTV, regarded by some as one of the few independent voices in India’s rapidly polarising media landscape.

The move has triggered concerns about NDTV’s editorial integrity, with the news channel saying the billionaire moved without its consent.

NDTV on Thursday sought to block Adani’s move by saying its founders Prannoy and Radhika Roy have since 2020 been barred by the market regulator from buying or selling shares in India’s securities market, and so can’t transfer the shares Adani is seeking.

Adani said in a statement on Friday that the NDTV founders’ arguments were “baseless, legally untenable”.

It said the founders’ investment entity was not part of any regulatory restrictions and was “bound to immediately perform its obligation and allot the equity shares” to the conglomerate.

Adani is trying to execute the takeover through a little-known Indian company, Vishvapradhan Commercial Private Ltd (VCPL).

It gave four billion rupees (S$69.60 million) in loans to NDTV’s founders more than a decade ago in exchange for warrants that allowed it to buy a stake in the news group at any time.

The conglomerate said on Aug 23 it had acquired VCPL and exercised those rights.